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Online Members None Online Guests: 1 Donate Video of The Week Digital Foundry vs. the Xbox One architects Balphazar 0 Comments · 0 Likes · Like · 23rd Sep 2013 Two months away from the release of the next generation consoles, many have already made up their minds about which machine offers more gaming power before a single game has been released. Compare basic graphics and memory bandwidth specs side-by-side and it looks like a wash - PlayStation 4 comprehensively bests Xbox One to such a degree that sensible discussion of the respective merits of both consoles seems impossible. They're using the same core AMD technologies, only Sony has faster memory and a much larger graphics chip. But is it really that simple?
In the wake of stories from unnamed sources suggesting that PS4 has a significant advantage over its Xbox counterpart, Microsoft wanted to set the record straight. Last Tuesday, Digital Foundry dialled into a conference call to talk with two key technical personnel behind the Xbox One project - passionate engineers who wanted the opportunity to put their story across in a deep-dive technical discussion where all the controversies could be addressed. Within moments of the conversation starting, it quickly became clear that balance would be the theme.
"For designing a good, well-balanced console you really need to be considering all the aspects of software and hardware. It's really about combining the two to achieve a good balance in terms of performance," says Microsoft technical fellow Andrew Goosen.
"We're actually very pleased to have the opportunity to talk with you about the design. There's a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of people who don't get it - we're actually extremely proud of our design. We think we have very good balance, very good performance, we have a product which can handle things other than just raw ALU [GPU compute power]. There are also quite a number of other design aspects and requirements that we put in around things like latency, steady frame-rates and that the titles aren't interrupted by the system and other things like that. You'll see this very much as a pervasive ongoing theme in our system design."
Xbox One: additional processors and the audio block
Microsoft's recent Hot Chips 25 presentation on the Xbox One processor suggested that the chip had 15 processors on-board. We were curious as to how that broke down.
"On the SoC, there are many parallel engines - some of those are more like CPU cores or DSP cores. How we count to fifteen: [we have] eight inside the audio block, four move engines, one video encode, one video decode and one video compositor/resizer," says Nick Baker.
"The audio block is completely unique. That was designed by us in-house. It's based on
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